Families welcome

A family member or someone close to your heart has almost completed their substance abuse treatment and will soon be home. How should you act? What should you talk about? What are the dos and don’ts?

Granted, it can feel uncomfortable at first. Maybe the last days together weren’t so great. Maybe you feel bad about some things you said or did, or maybe you are still angry about the money stolen. The closer the time gets, the more anxious you may feel. Tense feelings and bad memories can arise, along with uncertainty about exactly what your role is in now that your loved one returns home.

The main goal, of course, is to prevent relapse and it is important that you approach the situation with the right attitude. This will be a growing experience for you too. Here are some points to consider and work out for yourself before the rehab graduate returns home.

Have a positive attitude

First, relax – take a deep breath. It will probably go really well.

The drug rehabilitation graduate will be in a different state than the addict who went to treatment. Re-familiarize yourself with who this person is now. (It’s someone you knew all along and who you hoped would come back.)

If there are things that make you feel bad or angry about, bite your tongue. Your loved one feels worse than you and probably wants to do things right. Give the recovering addict a chance.

Try to stay away from negative topics. There is always a safe haven in positive and interesting conversation. Help the recovering addict look to the future and do your best to stay away from past events.

The best attitude is to support and acknowledge all of the work that the person has done to become clean through treatment.

Be patient. Remember, drug abuse treatment is only the beginning of a full recovery. It will take work to build stability after treatment. Most of the work is done by the recovered addict, but your help is needed.

In summary, keep things as stress-free as possible for both of you. Stress can adversely affect your health and cause your loved one to relapse.

Now that we’ve examined how to keep stress out of the house, let’s take a look at a few other things that we need to remove.

Remove alcohol from the household

Even if alcohol was not the drug of choice for your loved one, it is still an addictive substance. Throw away the alcohol and close the door to avoid unnecessary risk. You don’t want your family member to be overconfident and believe that they can start drinking or reach for a drink out of curiosity or to relieve current stress. If you enjoy delving into the occasional toddy yourself, do it away from home or leave it alone for now.

Medicine cabinet
Photo from nano / iStockPhoto.com

Remove unnecessary medication from around the house

It is not wise not to have old and unused medicines in the household under any circumstances. Unused medication puts young children, teenagers, and convalescent addicts at risk. A neighbor may even find their way into your medicine cabinet under the guise of borrowing a cup of sugar. Dispose of unneeded medication safely and ethically. For more information, the Drug Enforcement Administration has resources on drug withdrawal programs.

Safe necessary medication

Safe under lock and key, the medication you absolutely need keep at home. Hide them in a place that your relaxed loved one couldn’t look.

Here are a few longer term dos and don’ts to help the recovering addict achieve the goal of stable sobriety.

never Use drugs or alcohol with any rehab graduate

Set a good example in all respects, including refusing to use any substance with a rehab graduate. Don’t underestimate the influence you can have on others, including your loved ones, especially when it comes to substance abuse. Make your home an alcohol and drug free zone and keep it that way. Do not bring alcohol or other mind altering substances for your own use, even if it looks like recovery will be okay. Show the recovering addict that it is important to you to walk this path of substance-free living with them.

Set healthy boundaries

While helping the rehab graduate in the first few weeks and months after rehab is important, remember to set healthy boundaries for yourself as well. It would be unwise to allow your loved one to lean on you too much. It can be stressful for you and unhealthy for you. Full recovery involves going back into the world, going to school, finding a healthy career, and resuming family and social responsibilities. Advise the graduate that they can get back to life at a pace they can handle.

Take care of your loved ones

Don’t let your loved one fall into a bad crowd after going through all the effort to break away from toxic people, places, and habits. Be attentive and observe, not like a cop but in a caring manner. Encourage the graduate to focus on building healthy relationships with people who support them recovery and a drug-free life.

Family visit in recovery
Photo by SolStock / iStockPhoto.com

Create a supportive environment

Life in recovery is not always easy. There are likely to be some tough moments going on for your loved one. One of the best things you can do for her is to be there for her, if only as a shoulder to cry on when life gets particularly difficult.

Help your loved one get actively involved and keep busy with their recovery

Getting sober and staying sober isn’t something that happens on its own or overnight. This has to be worked on every day. Different people achieve this in different ways. Find out what interests the rehab graduate. Whether returning to school, working with like-minded people, volunteering, career advancement or just housework, there are healthy, interesting and enjoyable activities that should be supported and encouraged.

Restore trust

Addicts do not come home “cured” of drug and alcohol addiction. A treatment program helps a recovering addict make significant strides toward addiction freedom, but it is not an instant process. It will take time for a recovering addict to be stable in their recovery. Most of the work must be done by the recovering addict, but the family can help. When the recovering addict comes home to make amends, support that endeavor! It will increase the recovering addict’s self-confidence and the family’s confidence.

Rebuilding trust takes time. While you and the rest of the family members of the recovering person should not be arrogant with suspicion, neither should you allow anyone a free hand or total control in recovery. Find a good balance. Addiction destroys trust, and that trust can be rebuilt over time. The more time passes, the more trust can be rebuilt.

If necessary, seek outside help

If you feel like difficulties are brewing, don’t hesitate to seek outside help. Crises sometimes arise during recovery and it is crucial that you do everything possible to avoid relapse. If you think a relapse is imminent and you are unsure what to do, get in touch. A good drug and alcohol rehabilitation center can provide help and advice. You can also contact an addiction counselor, interventionist, or anyone who you think can help prevent your loved ones back from using drugs.

Family support
Photo by SDI Productions / iStockPhoto.com

Should a relapse occur

Although they should be avoided at all costs, relapses sometimes occur. Relapse is not the end of the world; It doesn’t mean that you and your relaxed loved one have failed.

Relapse indicates that there is more to be considered in treatment. Help the recovering addict go back to rehab to fully address themselves all the underlying problems, triggers, mental blocks, behavioral struggles, coping mechanisms, challenges – everything that she could risk for another relapse in the future.

If there is a relapse, act quickly. Do not be convinced that a drug or alcohol relapse was “just a mistake” and that it “will never happen again”. Relapses are extremely dangerous. Relapse occurs after a period of sobriety when there has been no medication in the system. If the recovering addict is using a similar amount of medication as before treatment, there is a possibility of an overdose. Therefore, if an addict relapses in recovery, they must be re-entered treatment immediately.

If you need help convincing your loved one to get help, please call today.

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